Russia attacks several cities after expansion of war aims
KHARKIV, Ukraine — Russian shelling pounded a densely populated area in Ukraine’s second-largest city Thursday, killing at least three people and injuring at least 23 others with a barrage that struck a mosque, a medical facility and a shopping area, according to officials and witnesses.
Police in the northeast city of Kharkiv said cluster bombs hit Barabashovo Market, where journalists from The Associated Press saw a woman crying over her dead husband’s body.
Local officials said the shelling also struck a bus stop, a gym and a residential building.
The bombardment came after Russia on Wednesday reiterated its plans to seize territories beyond eastern Ukraine, where the Russian military has spent months trying to conquer the Donbas region, south of Kharkiv. It also followed Ukrainian attacks this week on a bridge Russians have used to supply their forces in occupied areas near
Ukraine’s southern Black Sea coast.
Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said the attacks early Thursday targeted one of the most crowded areas of the city, which had a prewar population of about 1.4 million.
“The Russian army is randomly shelling Kharkiv, peaceful residential areas. Civilians are being killed,” Terekhov said.
The cluster bombs claim could not be independently confirmed. AP journalists saw burned-out cars and a bus pierced by shrapnel.
Kharkiv’s regional governor, Oleh Synyehubov, said four people were in grave condition and a child was among those wounded in the shelling. Russian forces also shelled wheat fields, setting them on fire, he said.
Elsewhere, Russian forces shelled the southern city of Mykolaiv overnight as well as the eastern cities of Kramatorsk and Kostiantynivka, where two schools were destroyed, Ukrainian officials said. A man’s body was recovered from the rubble of the school in Kramatorsk, and emergency workers say two more people were feared trapped there.
The scattered attacks illustrate broader war aims beyond Russia’s previously declared focus on the Donbas region’s Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, which pro-Moscow separatists have partly controlled since 2014.
Ukraine’s military reported Thursday that Russian forces failed to storm the Vuhlehirska power station in the Donetsk region.
Meanwhile, Turkish officials said a deal on a U.N. plan to unblock exports of Ukrainian grain and to allow Russia to export grain and fertilizers will be signed Friday in Istanbul. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office said he, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Russian and Ukrainian officials will attend.
Guterres has been working on a plan to enable the export of millions of tons of grain stuck in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports due to the war. The move could ease a global food crisis that has sent wheat and other grain prices soaring.